Turkey and Egypt are attracting more British holiday bookings, as prices in destinations seen as safer continue to increase. Both countries have seen a slump in visitor numbers due to a series of terror attacks, together with the closure to UK airlines of the main Egyptian resort airport, Sharm el Sheikh. But Peter Fankhauser, Chief Executive of Thomas Cook, said demand had picked up “as customers look for quality and value”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Both destinations are wonderful countries, with great hotels, great beaches, nice people, and it’s really good value. “People want to go back. We are not a security company; as long as we have the advice of the Foreign Office that we can fly to Egypt and Turkey, we offer a great product.”
Many holidaymakers have switched from the eastern Mediterranean to destinations perceived as “safe”, notably Spain. Sales to Spain were unchanged, with “a very competitive trading environment” — due to the sheer number of aircraft seats from the UK to Spanish airports. Average selling prices for seat-only tickets are down 3 per cent, while holiday prices overall have risen by 7 per cent.
“Spanish hoteliers are taking advantage a bit of the increased demand, and prices went up because we have not enough beds for all the demand,” said Mr Fankhauser. He predicted “A 5 to 10 per cent price increase we’ll have for sure in Spain” for summer 2018. Thomas Cook has faced criticism from some holidaymakers caught up in the extreme weather in the Caribbean and Florida earlier this month, in particular travellers who were in Cuba as Hurricane Irma approached and who say Thomas Cook was slow in responding.
But Mr Fankhauser said: “I am proud of how fast we acted in the wake of Irma to support our customers, and offer them alternative destinations for their winter sun.”